Netgear is a well respected name in the networking space, offering everything from routers to wireless adaptors to Powerline hardware.

The Netgear XAVB5101 Powerline Nano500 Set is just one of three 500Mbps starter kits that are available, with the XAVB5001 offering the same performance but in a standard sized set of adaptors. The XAVB5601 kit, meanwhile, offers larger adaptors that boast electrical sockets so that you don't lose a plug socket when adding a powerline network to your home, much like the Devolo AVSmart+ kit.

Netgear is to be commended for the design of its adaptors, which are compact but pleasingly chunky at the same time. The footprint of the Netgear adaptors is notably smaller than Devolo's similarly targeted dLAN 500 AVmini, although these are nearly 50 per cent thicker - the electronics have to go somewhere, after all.

We do find the Devolo offering a little more stylish, something that isn't helped by Netgear's decision to emblazon "Powerline AV500 gigabit" on the lower edge of the units.

Apart from this label, the tiny units are home to three LEDs that show power, Ethernet connectivity and the state of the powerline network. This latter LED shows red for power connections of less than 50Mbps, amber for up to 80Mbps and green for connection speeds above that. It's a simple way of checking you're getting the optimum performance on installation.

There's a factory reset insert on the right of the unit, while the button for setting up secure connections can be found on the opposite side. Netgear has sensibly elected to employ gigabit Ethernet on the XAVB5101, which means that you're not going to be limited by the Ethernet side of the connection.

The package comes with an installation guide, although somewhat unusually there's no installation CD for checking your network, nor is there the option of downloading software, either.

When it comes to testing, the Netgear XAVB5101 managed competent, if somewhat uninspiring, read and write performances across our network, of 62.2Mbps and 54Mbps respectively. Pretty much every other powerline kit we've looked at recently had the lead in raw throughput terms, although on the positive side of this, the units were consistent - which can be just as important in real world terms.

Verdict

The Netgear XAVB5101 is a solid option for anyone looking to tap into the latest 500Mbps powerline standard. And even though the performance wasn't enough to make it stand out from the crowd, the throughput was consistent and the pricing - at £167 in the UK and $159.99 in the US - is reasonable.